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Nuclear, the clean energy future?

Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release nuclear energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power station. These reactions are happening right now and have been for a while, 70 years to be exact. 1980 was the big year with 46 reactors commissioned to be built. Building rapidly declined after that due to growing safety concerns.  

 

The U.S. nuclear industry has since proved that nuclear energy is a safe and reliable power source. One hundred and four nuclear reactors currently operate in 31 states, generating about 19 percent of electricity in the U.S., including more than 70 percent of the nation’s carbon-free electricity. The total U.S. nuclear production amounts to more than 800 billion kilowatt-hours as the third-largest electrical energy source behind coal and gas.

 

Although the U.S. does not produce the greatest percentage of its own energy through nuclear power compared to other countries, it still boasts the highest percentage of worldwide nuclear power, as well as the most operating nuclear reactors.  Accounting for about 30 percent of nuclear power generation worldwide, the U.S. is a solid leader in the industry.

 

It is also a solid leader in being a “clean” energy source.  The only energy source that has lower carbon emissions is onshore wind power. You may ask how is this? Well carbon emissions is measured by the life cycle of the carbon emitted from the energy source. That is measured in Kilowatt Hours.

 

For example coal has a carbon life cycle of around 820 kWh, while a rooftop solar cell has a cycle of only 41 kWh. 41 seems low compared to 820 right? What if I told you Nuclear energy’s cycle was 12 kWh. That is right, 12.

 

Now even though uranium is not renewable, that 12 kWh carbon cycle is pretty impressive. For me that puts it up there for one of the cleanest energies. Honestly I do not think it is being utilized enough. It has become much safer throughout the years and has a proven track record. I feel that it is further along than any other alternative energy source. It has been put to commercial use for longer.

 

The question is will the US go in that direction? It will be expensive to build more and maintain the ones we have. But is it worth it? Is it worth not having miles and miles of panels and turbines? Is it worth the safety concerns?

We want to hear from you! Do you think Nuclear energy has a future in America?

 

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